In 1997, the total sales of organic foods in the U.S. totaled $3.6 billion, or less than one percent of total food sales. By 2009, organic sales had risen to $24.9 billion, representing 3.7 percent of all food and beverage sales. In that same span, certified-organic acreage in the U.S. increased from less than 1 million acres to 4.8 million acres, and the number of manufacturers selling certified-organic products increased dramatically.
As organics went mainstream following the establishment of the National Organic Program in 2002, mainstream supermarkets jumped on the organic bandwagon. In 1997, 63% of organic sales came though the naturals channel; by 2009, that number was down below 40%, with 54% of all organics sold in supermarkets. Retailers in all sectors, natural and mainstream, have begun to pursue organic retailer certification, with Whole Foods being the first national chain to achieve certification.
From 2000 to 2008, the organic segment enjoyed uninterrupted double-digit annual growth. Sales growth from 2007 to 2008 was a robust 16.9 percent. Beginning in late 2008, the ongoing recession hit the organic sector, with 2008-to-2009 growth falling to 5.2 percent. However, most organic categories continued to show growth and consumer interest in organics remains strong.